The Urban Scooter Revolution

America’s largest cities, from San Francisco to Dallas to New York, are experiencing an explosion of new transportation technology that is leaving traffic cops and pedestrians at a loss as to how to deal with it.

Scooters. Small electric scooters; the kind, without a motor, that little kids still push around their neighborhoods for kicks and giggles. A new generation of electric motor and battery technology has allowed the kiddy scooter to break out of the playground and appear on the streets and sidewalks of cities throughout the land — and some people are just plain mad about it.

In San Francisco, for instance, the startup Bird Rides has flooded the city with electric scooters. They cost one dollar an hour to ride and can be left just about anywhere within the city limits — each scooter has a GPS locator built in, and they are picked up late at night and taken back to several centralized locations near downtown. Due to the many complaints that San Francisco City Hall has received about collisions and near collisions between pedestrians and scooters, the Police have been ordered to impound the scooters if they are found blocking sidewalks. Bird Rides now offers free scooter safety/courtesy online classes for those who use their scooters, and is also giving away free safety helmets — even though the scooters can only reach a maximum speed of 12 miles per hour.

Pedestrians who thought motorized skateboards were the pits may soon find themselves having to dodge full grown adults as they whiz by on tiny little scooters. Can personal jetpacks be next?

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